Monthly Archives: February 2016

Ode to the Addict

I entered the room.

There she was, vamping and posing for the camera.  I resented her.  She was a swirling, invented version of herself when she was like this.  Sort of like a bobblehead, but not in the skinny way.  She was off-balance, teetering this way and the next and you never knew when she was going to crash and fall down.

It was so predictable.  I watched her come and go; she usually came when things got heavy.  And the crazy thing was?  People loved her.  They were way more drawn in by her instability than my calm.  She would prance her way into a room, wearing the shortest skirt; people would bow.  She would write you a list of her most embarassing woes; others would adulate her carefree, translucent ways.

I mean, it made sense.  It made things better.  She had only been using these ways since she was 15 or so.  It was a pattern she had trouble shaking.

Over time, I watched her return.  Interestingly enough, her entrances became less grand and her eyes looked more deadened with each return.  I wondered if she was beginning to see what I saw; that no matter how lovely her smile was, or how uniquely her soul shined compared to the others, she never changed.  She attracted the same crowd, she felt the same feelings, she reaped the same result.  She watched me, and others, move on and feel and struggle and do new things.  She knew that, no matter how protective her pretty cloak, she would never feel any joy.  That joy that makes space in your head for new things.  That contentment that settles into your soul when you sit in the sun on the edge of an ocean.

I didn’t resent her once I figured out I had been looking into a mirror.

Let’s Talk About Death, Baby.

suicide1Well, it’s 8:09 Eastern Standard Time, and I’m barely awake.  I figure there was never a better time to talk about suicide.

*****

For a few reasons, suicide has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late.

In another life (a.k.a., my twenties), it was always there.  Sitting there like a toxic friend you can’t get rid of, an option you’d eventually turn to.  It took half-assed attempts, cutting superficial marks up and down my arm like embarrassing evidence that I just couldn’t do it.  I covered those marks up with long sleeves, half-wishing someone would see them, and half-wishing they wouldn’t, so I could eventually get away with it.  It led me to drive to the edge of the Tobin, past the Good Samaritan sign that encourages people to call a hotline before jumping.

But as I look at the faces of old acquaintances who are part of the aftermath of suicide, I wonder, how can a force that wants you dead be a friend?

Here’s the answer: it’s more of a friend than the people who invalidate your feelings about it.  It’s more of a friend than the people who only want to see you happy and giving to them.  It’s more of a friend than the people who encourage you to stay in your life with the wife-and-kids, because it lets you know there’s a way out of the lie you’re living.

It’s not healthy, but it’s a way out.  And I get it because I’ve been there.  And by some twist of luck, I’m still here.

You might ask, how do people get that low?  In my experience, it was strong feelings invalidated by stigma and shame from other people who were uncomfortable or uneducated about their own feelings.  I figured, well, there must be something wrong with me if I feel this way and society doesn’t.  I don’t belong here.  Then, coupled by alcoholic and eating disordered numbing behaviors that served as a self-fulfilled prophecy, I was affirmed in my own feelings: other people felt the same way.  They couldn’t stand my awful behavior and this made me an awful person, in my mind.

Harder still, a large part of my identity was attached to how I looked.  I was encouraged to model as a teen, and once I figured out good looks could have power over the same classmates who sexually harassed me in fourth grade music class, I was filled with control.  Temporarily.  Until I realized beauty was fleeting and that no joy was found in it.  Until I grew older and gained weight and lost that youthful power.  And that was frightening.  If I wasn’t pretty and nice, then who the hell was I?

I know who I am today, and that is a gift given to me from others.  I only wish some of those who are gone were shown the same grace that I was.

*****

What I am sick of is people not listening.  To this blog, to science, to experiences of people who have been through depression and a vast amount of other mental illnesses.

I AM SICK OF PEOPLE BEING AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT DARKNESS.

It is a vital, important part of each and every one of us, and if we all could talk about it more, less people would be dead.  Long story short.  More people would reach out and get help and not feel shame.

If you are one of those people who actually shames people for being on medication in 2016, check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Just like I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be Black, you can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be in my position.  And what is that position?  Trying everything – trying exercise, less sugar, daily journaling, and having none of it work.  Having a doctor tell you, you need to be on medication and the benefits of you being on it vastly outweigh the possible side effects or the risks of you not being on medication at all.

If you, in the year 2016, are unwilling to acknowledge your own biases about feelings, then you are part of the problem.  I’m not trying to attack, I’m just calling it like it is.

You ask, How do I do this?  This seems like a tall order, being vulnerable and open and at risk for humiliation!”

And I say, It is.  It’s hard.  Being human is a tall order and let’s have compassion for every aching part of us instead of hiding it.  It might just save someone’s life.

 

 

(dedicated to the girl in Brownies who was probably hurting as much as I was)